Thursday, October 17, 2013

Greek Master Class with Matt Stamp, MS

Master Sommelier, Matt Stamp was back in Houston for a Greek Master Class at Camerata Wine Bar for members of the Guild of Sommeliers. The focus was entirely on the white wines of Greece, their improved quality and whether Houston consumers are ready to see these wines on our local wine lists.

My own experience with the white wines of Greece was limited to some overindulgence during my college years at the Houston Greek Festival, a couple of tastings of Moschofilero and Assyrtiko in some past wine classes and in a by the glass format at some local Greek restaurants. I also went to a tasting of mixed Greek whites and reds at the Midtown Spec’s over a year and a half ago where I had a bit of trouble obtaining a list of the wines we tasted, so I am uncertain as to what all I tried.
Greece has over 200 grape varieties and most are not well known in the Houston market. Matt was unable to get any dry white from Patras in the Peloponnese which disappointed him as he feels that these are important examples of the rising quality to be found in Greek wine and it was disappointing to me as I have only had a sweet red dessert wine from this area.
In my part of town, I have not seen too much availability of Greek wine at all; not on restaurant menus though there are many Mediterranean restaurants near me , not at my local Spec’s nor in my grocery stores, which is a shame, as my overall impression of the wines that we tasted was that they were refreshing and that they would work well with our local seafood.

The Wine Tasting – Island Hopping and beyond
2012 “San Gerassimo” Robola of Cephalonia PDO (SRP $20) This wine is 100% Robola from the central Omala Valley on Cephalonia Island where there is potassium-rich limestone soil. There are only two and a half hectares of this planted so it is a very limited production made by a cooperative of fifteen growers. This wine has aromas and flavors of lemon and spearmint with a bit of salinity. It is dry, light to medium body, medium+ acidity with a lemon pith finish.

2012 Skouras Moschofilero Peloponnese PGI (SRP $15) This wine is 100% Moschofilero which is very aromatic grape. It has pronounced floral aromas of rose with fresh peach flavors. Dry, light to medium body, medium+ acidity with a bit of an oily texture a fresh peach finish.
2012 Tselepos Mantinia PDO (SRP $17) This wine is 100% Moschofilero from Mantinia on the Peloponnese Island and it has a similar profile to the previous one though this wine had slightly lighter floral aromas of rose with fresh apricot flavors and it had a slight bitterness with a rosier color from the longer pre-fermentation skin contact.  It was dry, medium body with medium+ acidity and a clean finish.
2012 Monemvassia Kydonitsa Laconia PGI (SRP $17) This wine is 100% Kydonitsa. This wine had aromas of figs, dried herbs and grapefruit with matching flavors. The nose was more pronounced than the palate. It was dry, medium body, medium acidity with a creamy, almost waxy texture and a somewhat short finish.
2012 Lyrarakis Dafni Crete PGI (SRP $18) This wine is made from 100% Dafni from Alagni in the Iraklion district. I believe that it was my first time to taste this variety, it was not my favorite in this tasting but I would try it again. It had very light aromas and low levels of flavor; minerals, lemon pith and sage. It had a medium body, medium acidity and a short finish.
2012 Alexakis Vidiano Crete PGI This wine, like the one above, comes from the island of Crete but it is made from 100% Vidiano, a grape variety that is endemic to the island. This was my preferred taste of Crete. Grapefruit, lemon pith and minerals with a medium body, medium+ acidity and a long citrusy finish.
2012 Gerovassiliou Malagousia Epanomi PGI (SRP $21) This wine was interesting. It is 100% Malagousia from Epanomi in northern Greece on the Macedonia coast. Matt Stamp feels is almost like a Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc mix. Only 25 hectares are currently cultivated but more plantings are going in. It had floral aromas of jasmine with rich apricot flavors, a medium body, medium+ acidity and a long fruity finish.
Tasting Santorini these wines are all sourced from vines grown on their own rootstock in Santorini’s volcanic aspa soils in basket or crown shapes to protect the vines from the strong winds and to help collect the sea mist for water. Matt Stamp said the rootstock could be 400-500 years old while the vines are about 80-100 years old. It is common to find Assyrtiko blended with Aidani and Athiri in Santorini but, in this line up, all the wines are 100% Assyrtiko. Matt believes this variety in its pure form is a great wine to age up to ten years to see its evolution; its aromatic profile in maturity is similar to mature Riesling. In youth, it can be austere and can be more enjoyable after a couple years of bottle age. Enjoy with seafood, Caesar salad or tomato salad.
2011 Koutsoyiannopoulos Santorini PDO (SRP $20)Aromas and flavors of lemon and thyme with a saline minerality, medium body, medium+ acidity with a medium+ length citrus finish.
2012 Santo Wines Santorini PDO (SRP $20) This wine was very similar to the wine above. It also had aromas and flavors of lemon and thyme with a saline minerality; medium body and acidity with a medium+ length citrus finish.
2008 Sigalas Santorini PDO This wine has aromas and flavors of ripe grapefruit with a saline minerality, medium body and acidity with a medium+ length citrus finish.
2012 Sigalas Barrel-Fermented Santorini PDO (SRP $20) Aromas and flavors of sweet ripe lemon with a bit of sage, a full body, medium acidity and a medium+ length creamy citrus finish.
2009 Hatzidakis Nykteri Santorini PDO (SRP $25) Lightly oxidized, aromas of baked apple pie with light citrus and apple flavors. This wine is full bodied with medium+ acidity and a long finish. Salty foods, such as mackerel or other oily fish, make a good match for wines with some oxidation.
The Final Farewell – Greek Retsina or the “Moment of Zen” per Matt Stamp
Stelios Kechris Retsina “Tears of the Pine” This wine is not labeled by vintage. It is 100% Assyrtiko made with the addition of pine resin to give it the familiar distinctive character: the resin is removed before bottling. This wine comes from the Goumenissa PDO region. I have only tasted this style of Greek wine in class settings and I probably won’t be changing that habit anytime soon. I will agree with Matt Stamp that this particular bottle had milder pine aroma and flavor than any other that I have tasted. Try it well chilled with fried food and Greek cheese for optimal enjoyment.
Opa!

related posts:
Matt Stamp Masterclasses in Houston